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By Amy E. Den Ouden

Through concentrating on the complicated cultural and political elements of local resistance to encroachment on reservation lands through the eighteenth century in southern New England, past Conquest reconceptualizes indigenous histories and debates over place of birth rights. As Amy E. Den Ouden demonstrates, Mohegans, Pequots, and Niantics residing on reservations in New London County, Connecticut—where the biggest indigenous inhabitants within the colony resided—were below siege via colonists who hired a variety of ability to expropriate reserved lands. Natives have been additionally subjected to the guidelines of a colonial govt that sought to strictly regulate them and that undermined place of birth rights by way of depicting reservation populations as culturally and politically illegitimate. even supposing colonial strategies of rule occasionally incited inner disputes between local men and women, reservation groups and their leaders engaged in sophisticated and occasionally overt acts of resistance to dispossession, therefore demonstrating the ability of ancient awareness, cultural connections to land, and ties to neighborhood family. The Mohegans, for instance, boldly challenged colonial authority and its land encroachment guidelines in 1736 via maintaining a “great dance,” within which they publicly affirmed the management of Mahomet and, with the aid in their Pequot and Niantic allies, articulated their cause to proceed their felony case opposed to the colony. Beyond Conquest demonstrates how the present Euroamerican scrutiny and denial of neighborhood Indian identities is a tradition with a protracted background in southern New England, one associated with colonial notions of cultural—and finally “racial”—illegitimacy that emerged within the context of eighteenth-century disputes concerning fatherland rights.

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Extra info for Beyond conquest: Native peoples and the struggle for history in New England

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As James Scott has explained, such hidden transcripts – or critiques of domination – are “specific to a given social site and to a particular set of actors” (Scott 1990:14). Locally generated, then, and typically expressed only within and among the subordinated group, these hidden critiques may erupt “in the face of power” with potentially disastrous consequences (Scott 1990:4–7). In this instance, however, Mawsamp – whose physical pose at that moment was far from menacing – has articulated an objection to dispossession and a threat of vengeance not in the presence of official representatives of colonial power, but to an Anglo boy, who Mawsamp apparently knew and had likely spoken to before, and to whom he may have sought to convey something of a history lesson.

The officials were also informed that Eastern Pequots had “attempted to fence in some of their land for pasture, but have been [25], (25) beaten off from it and their fence thrown down” (2:44). Such conditions of life induced despair. As a 1728 Niantic petition reports, residents of the town of Lyme had “from time to Time for the space of Twenty Lines: 171 t Years” allowed their “Cows horsese Swine Sheep & c” to run loose on ——— the reservation, so that Niantics’ crops were “wholly destroyed” (1:132).

Certainly the presence of mixed-ancestry individuals in the Pequot reservation community would challenge colonially imposed “racial” boundaries; 45 likewise it called into question the extent to which the geographic boundaries of reservation land could be effectively policed to seal off – and allow for the “extinction” of – reservation populations. The reservation overseers were not simply contending with the insidious administrative task of “racial classification” for individual members of the reservation community (that is, of assessing their identity in terms of the mutually exclusive Euro-American categories “Indian” and “Negro”).

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